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Martes, 03 Mayo 2016 00:09

Our Jamaican Immersion Trip – 2015

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Deacon Herb & Peggy Casey – Contra Costa County Chapter

This was our third Maryknoll Fathers & Brothers immersion trip but the first time Peggy and I visited Jamaica. The main purposes of these immersion trips are to experience Christ wherever we go and to be present to all those we encounter. This trip certainly fulfilled these objectives for us. 

The Caseys’ FAB immersion group

It took many of us some time to get acclimated to the heat and humidity that we felt the minute we deplaned, but our accommodations were comfortable and the hospitality provided by our host was wonderful. We plunged right in with songs, prayers, and introductions so that we would get to know each other, since most of the 11 of us had not met each other before.

 As we embarked on our first adventure the next morning, our eyes were opened to the bustling sights and sounds of life in Montego Bay. Our first encounter was at Blessed Assurance—a home to children who had been abandoned and discarded by family, and by Jamaican society, mainly because of serious physical and mental disabilities. Our hearts were immediately touched as the children, mostly suffering from the effects of cerebral palsy, greeted us with hugs and kisses. Most could not speak, but their actions and eyes told us of the beautiful God-given soul within. 

Our eyes watered more than once, and there was an ache in our hearts as we watched and hugged them back. We were led to their chapel where we learned about the Blessed Assurance facility: the staff, the children’s activities, and the caregivers’ methods for assisting, supervising, and loving them 24 hours a day. We joined them in prayer and song. 

Many of us never encountered children so deformed and disabled, so we felt clumsy at first. We were lucky to be able to assist in feeding them, playing games (kicking a soccer ball around), and just being present.

Next we visited the Hope Center, which houses mostly senior citizens who are bed-ridden or suffering from old age. They were so happy to see us and share their life stories. One gentleman was 101 years old. He was alert, talkative, and engrossed with making “ropes” out of plastic bags. He was eager to show us how to do his craft, and his eyes lit up when one from our group tried to help. We sang and prayed with them, which we all enjoyed. We even noted a small miracle: a woman who was blind and could not walk about six months ago was able to see again and walk during our visit. She loved to sing. Fellowship and presence was such a blessing to all who participated. 

Our fledgling group bonded and shared table fellowship as the days progressed. The activities were emotional and tiring, but we gathered each night for support, gave thanks, and discovered each other’s gifts in our reflections. We began and ended each day with Liturgy of the Hours. We are so thankful for the blessings we received in our encounters with those that we met along “The Way.” 

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